Remembering Demo Discs
Before the days of Xbox Live and PSN, demo discs were the hero of the masses. Those little round samplers, full of the biggest release. In fairness, smaller titles were chucked on for good measure. Popping in that disc, choosing from a host of games to try, what a feeling it was.
It’s hard to convey the feelings to people accustomed to modern methods. Demos are no longer expected. Rarely does the customer get to try the product for free prior to release. Those days have long gone, in its place is the bastardised version of ‘Betas’. Demo discs were consumer friendly. Little to no investment required with the added perks of keeping the disc forever.
Each disc had the ability to broaden your horizons, revealing new genres and styles. From a personal perspective, I recall the joys of discovering titles like Future Cop L.A.P.D, Colony Wars and Medievil. These days are well and truly over, which is saddening. Knowing there’s a large number of people who will play the same things, never trying anything else, is disheartening.
Demo Discs were a god send for the younger player, especially for those on a budget. Games were expensive, you made do with what you had. 10 year old me would make the best out of the worst games, but we all have our limits. Demo discs supplied hours of entertainment, if the selection was right. You’d be surprised how many hours you can squeeze out of Spyro 3′s skateboarding section.
The most well known disc is probably Sony Playstation’s ‘Demo 1′. Bundled with the system, this disc was packed with multiple titles that would become established franchises. Tekken, Ridge Racer, Battle Arena Toshinden and Twisted Metal were all present in some form or another. Seeing the capabilities of Sony’s latest machine was mind blowing. That one disc was the perfect introduction to the fifth generation.
Times changed and so did the demo format. The natural progression to online formats made everything easier, though it did end the variety offered on discs. As the console generations progressed, demos for bigger games began to shrink. Triple A titles no longer needed to let consumers try before they buy, at least not for free.
Here’s to you, the humble demo disc, you may be gone but you’re not forgotten.